Jack Myers’ report from the Wall Street Journal D-4 Conference is a treasure-trove of valuable insights into the future of brands and branded content. Jack is a powerhouse thinker and strategist in the media world, and his reports reach thousands of heavy hitters in Hollywood and Madison Avenue.
I had the pleasure of meeting him when we spoke at an industry conference in Toronto for Alliance Atlantis, and let me tell you, he is as charming and warm as he is astute and knowledgeable. In countenance, he looks a little like Al Franken, and even shares his humor and wit.
Anyway, allow me to quote some more telling passages from Jack’s insider report from the conference. As the report rightly focuses on, most talk among TV network execs was around consumer generated content (the hot buzzword this year…so far), how the big network heavies view it, and how they are choosing to react to it.
Bob Iger, Walt Disney Company CEO, reminded the audience that…
…he was responsible for adding America’s Funniest Home Videos to the ABC schedule and that the program has become one of the network’s longest running hit series, Iger suggested there is an opportunity to organize user generated videos into television network programming and content for other platforms. “People are fascinated with user generated content,” he said. “It doesn’t hold a candle to professionally generated content, but they are spending time with it and we are facilitating some user content.
He pointed out one-quarter of the families visiting Disney theme parks bring video cameras with them, saying “we can facilitate ways to make that content available.
Oh great! Does Iger really think that consumer generated content means housing vacation videos from Disney parks? Or is he thinking Disney’s Funniest Vacation Videos on ABC? Meyers’ report continues….
In a later D-4 panel, Discovery Communications CEO Judith McHale agreed “there is a huge opportunity in user generated content especially on The Travel Channel and Animal Planet.
How can we link real world entertainment and information from all over the world,” she asked acknowledging “there is no doubt you will see a shift in the behavior of how people use media. If you don’t look at new ways to reach consumers and create new uses for all the things you do, you’re in trouble.”
In an exclusive interview with Jack Myers Media Business Report, McHale commented that Discovery “will increasingly meld the professional view coupled with user generated content. In order to have a commercially viable product you need a professional overlay. The challenge is to do that while still giving the benefit of user generated content in a way that is a powerful statement to consumers. It becomes a really good business opportunity going forward to meld a professional look with UGC.”
Oi vey! A meld. That’s what she thinks consumers want? A meld. Next!
McHale also believes Animal Planet has a huge opportunity to own the pet space in user generated videos, creating series like America’s Funniest Pet Videos. “We are very focused on complementing and not competing with our current services,” McHale advises. “That is the ultimate win-win. We are enhancing what we do, creating new opportunities, and learning how to build communities.”
Cool! Talk to Bob Iger. The two of you can produce A
merica’s Funniest Disney Pet Vacation Videos
! No really! It will be a smash hit. After all, it is consumer generated media, isn’t it? Kudos to you all. You really get it. Bravo. Bra-vo. (Pardon my sarcasm.)
At least on exec gets it, albeit without much conviction behind it:
Susan Lyne, CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, believes “we don’t know what new models are going to work. The hits come from the fringes and you never know what’s going to click with audiences.” Recognizing that reality, she says her focus is on “what we can do in new media that is different and that can add to the consumer experience. It’s not just about having a richer media mix and making more information available, but allowing consumers to create. Everything we do is about giving consumers an idea they can do at home, such as scrap-booking and digital cards. We get more than one million pieces of mail showing us what they’ve done at home. That’s an opportunity for us.”
Yes! Creation! From the fringes! Adding to the consumer experience! Yes, yes, yes! Finally, some wisdom!
Thanks Jack, for the enlightenment.